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ASSESSMENT OF PROGRESS REACHED AFTER RIO

The Co-Chairs’ draft "Assessment of Progress Reached After Rio" describes: the effects of globalization; economic, social and environmental trends; participation of major groups; international environmental agreements; finance and official development assistance (ODA) trends; and technology transfer. A number of developing countries emphasized the developmental aspect of sustainable development and the economic difficulties faced by developing countries. Many developed country delegates stressed that the current state of the global environment is not the sole responsibility of industrialized countries. Delegates also highlighted the need for implementation of international agreements on environment and sustainable development.

Delegates made general comments on the Assessment on Friday, 7 March. INDIA, INDONESIA and CHINA emphasized the need for a balanced approach to environment and development. INDIA called for a reference to important principles adopted in Rio, such as common but differentiated responsibilities. PAKISTAN stated that the key issue in achieving sustainable development is capacity, and capacity-building requires action at all levels, global partnership and willingness to go beyond national boundaries. CHINA stated that the draft does not reflect constraints imposed by the current international economic environment on the economic development of developing countries.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said that the Assessment should be aimed not only at diplomats but also at the broader public. He called for concrete illustrations of and numerical trends for both problems and achievements, which could be based on the UNEP Global Environmental Outlook. CANADA suggested adding a paragraph on learning and awareness-raising about sustainable development over the past five years. The US and INDONESIA emphasized the importance of regional efforts to achieve sustainable development.

On a paragraph describing the effects of globalization, the EU recommended greater emphasis on the importance of ODA for meeting basic needs. NORWAY called for further stress on the negative environmental impacts, poverty and unemployment in both developing and developed countries that have resulted from globalization and the need to remedy these impacts. COLOMBIA agreed that globalization has not been of equal benefit for all countries, reinforcing the need for ODA to achieve sustainable development. The revised draft notes that while some developing countries have benefited from globalization, others have suffered declining per capita GDP and remain dependent on declining ODA for the capacity-building and infrastructure required for provision of basic needs and more effective participation in the globalizing world economy.

In a paragraph highlighting worsening economic conditions as well as progress in provision of social services, CANADA suggested noting that the decline in population growth rates is attributable not only to the expansion of basic education and health care but also of family planning. PAKISTAN called for more emphasis on the urgency of reducing inequities in the distribution of wealth and resources. The revised draft notes that economic conditions and poverty have worsened in many cases and income inequality has grown. While progress has been made in lowering population growth rates and providing social services, many people still lack access to basic social services, clean water and sanitation.

In a paragraph on global environmental deterioration, the EU and the US noted that the rise in polluting emissions has not solely occurred in developed countries. The EU called for references to: decreases in some polluting emissions in industrialized countries; wasteful consumption and production patterns in both industrialized and developing countries; and depletion of non- renewable resources. NORWAY called for a specific reference to the adverse effects of present trends on biodiversity. CANADA proposed that the reference to fragile ecosystems emphasize the Arctic as an important barometer of global environmental health. PAKISTAN called for a reference to the accelerated rate of desertification. The revised draft notes that although progress has been made in institutional development, international consensus-building, public participation and private sector actions, overall environmental trends are worsening. Based on a proposal by the EU, a paragraph noting that trends in consumption and production patterns continue to deplete non-renewable resources was included.

No comments were made on a paragraph highlighting governmental efforts to integrate environment and development concerns into decision-making. The revised draft notes that approximately 150 countries have established national-level commissions or coordinating mechanisms on sustainable development.

On major groups, the EU emphasized public participation and information. PAKISTAN recommended mentioning the inability of major groups in developing countries to reach their full potential in contributing to sustainable development due to lack of resources and capacity. The revised draft notes that major groups have demonstrated what can be achieved through committed action, sharing of resources and building consensus, and highlights achievements of each major group.

In a paragraph noting the entry into force of several international environmental agreements, the EU proposed references to the entry into force of UNCLOS and to progress made by the IPF. MEXICO said the ratification of these agreements does not mean the problems they address have been resolved and called for a reference to their implementation. NORWAY called for not only implementation but also strengthening of global commitments. The US, EGYPT and MEXICO noted that the global conferences since Rio were overlooked, and EGYPT called for a reference to the lack of implementation of the action programmes of these conferences. The revised draft notes the entry into force of environmental agreements as a notable achievement, but highlights their limited implementation and the need for further strengthening in some cases. It also states that while the establishment, funding and replenishment of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) was an achievement, funding levels remain insufficient.

The final document contains a paragraph noting that progress has been made in incorporating the Rio Principles in a variety of international and national legal instruments. Another paragraph states that several recent UN conferences have advanced international commitment to the social and economic aspects of sustainable development.

A paragraph highlighting the catalytic role of the CSD in forwarding global dialogue on sustainable development incorporates a CANADIAN proposal to emphasize the progress made by the CSD’s IPF as a useful example of actions the CSD could take in other areas.

Many developing country delegates proposed separating the initial Co-Chairs’ draft paragraph that addressed ODA, the GEF, and debt. A paragraph on ODA notes that most developed countries have not reached the ODA target of 0.7% of GNP and that ODA levels have declined in the post-Rio period. It also incorporates an EU proposal to include the failure to reach the 0.15% target for the least developed countries.

A paragraph noting that the debt situation remains a constraint on sustainable development incorporates an EU proposal to refer to the World Bank/IMF Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. The text calls for further international efforts to reduce debt.

On technology transfer, the EU called for a balance between commitments made by developed countries and need for developing countries to create favorable conditions for technology transfer. PAKISTAN called for recognition that private flows have been concentrated in a handful of countries and sectors, and that the driving force has been profit and not sustainable development. The revised draft states that technology transfer and technology-related investment have not been realized as foreseen in Agenda 21.

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